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tv   Why Planes Crash  MSNBC  May 15, 2016 2:00pm-3:01pm PDT

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as there when my dad suffered with diabetic nerve pain. if you have diabetes and burning, shoing pain in your feet or hands, don't ffer in silence! step on up and ask your doctor about diabetic nerve pain. tell 'em cedric sent you. out of fuel and no runway in sight. this plane is going down in the water. >> i was definitely under water. and the aircraft was rolling to the left. >> there were bodies, there were people on the floor in the galley. >> a routine flight out of new york slams down in the hudson river. >> at this point i'm thinking, this can't be happening to me. >> a 767 hijacked, violently forced into the ocean. the most dramatic ditching ever caught on camera. >> the plane was tumbling or something. i said, that's it, i'm dead. >> in the next hour, life and death ordeals in pilots' and passengers' own words. >> the captain just said, brace for impact. >> dramatic animations that put
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you right at the terrifying scenes. an in-depth investigation into why some pilots make the risky decision to put their planes down in the water. and how they live to tell the story. when us airways flight 1549 went down in the hudson river, surveillance cameras were only able to capture these remote images of the landing. it's hard to see what really happened. now you're looking at the so-called miracle on the hudson as you've never seen it before. this is a detailed animation of
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a flight in trouble. in the aviation industry it's known as ditching, putting a plane down in the water due to an emergency. it's what happens when the nearest open space is not a runway, not even a stretch of open field or a highway, but a body of water. in the case of us airways flight 1549, the hudson river in new york city. just six minutes before the world-famous splashdown, flight 1549 is cleared for taxi and takeoff at new york's la guardia airport. first officer jeffrey skiles is at the controls. he's new to the airbus. for the past eight years, he's flown a boeing 737. >> well, the takeoff was uneventful. it was a nice day. it was cold. and this was only my second trip on the airplane. so i was actually hand-flying the airplane to get used to it.
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and about 3,000 feet we, you know, flew into the birds. >> the plane has been in the air less than three minutes when it collides with a flock of canada geese, crippling both engines. >> this is cactus 1539. hit birds, we lost thrust in both engines. we're turning back towards laguardia. >> okay, yeah, you need to return to laguardia. turn left heading of 220. tower stop your departures. we got an emergency returning. >> captain chesley sully sullenberger takes control of the airplane from his copilot with two simple words. "my aircraft." remarkably there is footage of the plane's last moments airborne. >> sully took over control of the airplane and called for the dual engine failure checklist that we do. and i started to perform that. >> trying to get the engines restarted. >> yes. >> was there any luck at all? >> no. the engines have to be in a certain start envelope, we call it, to start.
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and that usually is predicated on you going a lot faster. the airbus dual engine failure checklist assumes the engines have failed at cruising altitude. 30,000 feet would have given the pilots ample time to figure things out. hitting a flock of canada geese at just 3,000 feet, that's another story. what at this point is going through your mind? >> at this point i'm thinking, this can't be happening to me. >> if flight 1539's engines were no longer producing thrust, why wouldn't the plane have fallen from the sky, out of control in the simple aerodynamics? a plane with an engine failure
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can still be controlled as it comes down. to keep the plane flying the pilot pitches it nose-down to maintain lift over the wings. essentially trading altitude for air speed. the plane then gains momentum, much like a roller coaster going downhill. in the process, the pilot has to make a mental judgment as to how far the plane will travel. >> at 3,000 feet you're probably only going to travel a few miles. at 40,000 feet, you're going to be able to travel 100 miles, roughly. >> michelle summers halloran spent 15 years as a commercial pilot. she's now an associate professor in florida. so now you've got to failure out based on how long this plane will stay in the sky as to what you can reach. >> that is absolutely correct. >> you're doing very basic math. >> you're doing a lot of mental math in public, yes. >> captain sullenberger has nearly 20,000 hours of flight time under his belt. so it doesn't take long for him to do the math and realize at their altitude and rate of descent, it's too risky to try to glide all the way to an airport over such a densely packed area. it's now 3:28 p.m. flight 1549 has less than two minutes until impact.
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air traffic controllers at times using the wrong flight number, try and guide the plane to an airport. >> cactus 1529. if we can get you, do you want to try to land runway 137? >> we're unable. we may end up in the hudson. >> 1549, it's going to be less traffic to runway 31. >> unable. >> just north of the george washington bridge, the captain aligns the airbus a-320 with the hudson river. he passes the bridge just to the east and continues due south. >> i looked out the window, saw we were actually below the rooftops of manhattan. i said, this is not a good sign, we're not making newark. >> did sully look at you and say we're going in the water, or did you both come to the realization that's where this was going? >> i think it was more it was just the only option we had. there was no -- we weren't going to make it to an airport. and that was the only open spot that we saw. >> if a pilot is forced to ditch, the faa has recommendations for how to do so.
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it all comes down to wind and waves, or swells. in a perfect world, how would you land on the waves? >> depending on the wind and water, i would always want to land parallel to the swells so if your waves are coming this way, you want to land on the top. you never, ever want to be into -- this is what's called a cross-swell, where you're perpendicular into the water this way. >> what might happen? >> if you land into the face of the swell, you could actually flip over like this. that's not a good thing. >> another potential hazard that could have spelled disaster for flight 1549, coming down with one wing higher than the other. >> the airplane could have cartwheeled and that would have been very violent and significantly lessened the opportunity to get everybody out as well as they did. >> cactus 1529 turn right, 280. you can land runway teterboro. >> we can't do it. >> okay, which runway would you like at teterboro? >> we're going to be in the hudson. >> the captain just said, brace for impact. everyone started saying prayers,
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just looking at each other, not knowing what to say, what to do. >> at 3:30 p.m. with wing flaps and slats extended to help slow the plane down, flight 1549 is about to splash down in the hudson river. >> as you watch this unfold, it's everything's just about right. slow. the nose is up. wings are level. and they've got the good fortune of it being fairly calm. >> we didn't know if we were hitting water or if we were hitting land, which was what we were better off. and then you know, the impact hitting the water was just, you know, the most tremendous impact you could imagine. >> all 155 people on board survive. from bird strike to touchdown, the entire incident lasts just 3 1/2 minutes. not enough time to get through the dual engine failure checklist, much less a ditching checklist. also not enough time to enable what's called the ditch switch,
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a valve that effectively seals the plane and allows it to float longer. >> you're not sinking. you're alive. was there an exhilaration, or was there still an adrenaline going on? >> i'm sure there was an adrenaline rush, i guess. we went to hospital and four hours later, my blood pressure was 160 over 100. which i'm normally a 120 over 70 guy. so obviously there was something going on physiologically that i didn't understand at the time. >> i am terrific. this is the best day ever. >> a lot of things went our way. >> what kind of things went your way? >> apparently there are swells a lot on the hudson. it was completely flat that day. and we happened to land right where the ferries go from new jersey to manhattan. so they were right there. they were able to come and rescue us. other than hitting the birds, everything went our way that day. >> when we come back, bird versus engine. a graphic demonstration shows the startling damage even a small bird can do to an 84-ton
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jet. and flight 1549 is not the first commercial jet to be put down in the water. there have been others. some just as successful. others tragically not. (stranger) good mornin'! ♪ (store p.a.) attention shoppers, there's a lost couple in the men's department. (vo) there's a greatig un-khaki world out there. explore it in a subaru crosstrek. love. it's what makes a subaru, a subaru. customer service!d. ma'am. this isn't a computer... wait. you're real? with discover card, you can talk to a real person in the u.s., like me, anytime. wow. this is a recording. really? no, i'm kidding. 100% u.s.-based customer service. here to help, not to sell.
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in the wake of the ditching of us airways flight 1549, a lot of people wonder how a flock of ten-pound birds could incapacitate a jet with a takeoff weight of nearly 170,000 pounds. how could that be? the answer -- as large and powerful as jet engines are, they're also surprisingly delicate. this incredible video was shot during a bird strike test run by aircraft engine manufacturer pratt & whitney.
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the birds are dead before the test begins. watch as the carcasses get shredded as they collide with the turbo fan engine. not a pretty sight. but the engine doesn't fare much better. with permanent damage to its hollow titanium fan blad. >> when a large bird goes in, it damages the compressor in front of the airplane, and those blades that break, they just cascade through the rest of the engine. >> ladies and gentlemen, the bang you heard was not our original problem. there was a large eagle on the runway. >> bird strikes are a lot more common than you might think. according to the faa, there are at least 20 bird strikes a day across the u.s. the problem costs the aviation industry more than $2 billion a year. and since 1988 bird strikes have resulted in more than 200 deaths nationwide. fortunately, there were no human fatalities in the bird strike that forced flight 1549 into the water.
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but not all ditchings go that smoothly. some run into a perfect storm of problems. imagine a pilot ends up over the caribbean sea, out of fuel, out of options, and soon into the ocean. that's the tragic story of a.l.m. flight 980. but what went so wrong? may 2nd, 1970. in a partnership between two now defunct charter airlines, dutch carrier a.l.m. and american carrier overseas national airlines, a.l.m. flight 980 is set to leave new york's jfk airport at 11:00 a.m. 57 passengers and six crew members are on board. >> it was a beautiful spring day. temperatures were in the 60s. scattered clouds. light winds. it was a beautiful day in new york. >> flight 980's destination, the
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caribbean. juliana airport in st. maarten. pilots say it's one of the trickiest places in the world to land a plane, especially a 747, as this video shows. the postage stamp-size runway is perilously close to a beach. people can practically reach out and touch jets as they're coming down just a few feet over their heads. >> if the airplane were to land short and end up on that beach full of people, it would be catastrophic. to be that close to that large an airplane moving that quickly, i guess the term "awesome" comes to mind. >> aside from physical limitations of the runway, there's also a mountain range blanketing one side of the airport. and if all that isn't enough, there's that unpredictable caribbean weather. all those factors combined are about to turn a routine flight into a nightmare. for the first time after four decades the pilot of that flight, captain balsey dewitt,
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is telling his dramatic story on american television. >> as far as an accident being a chain of events, this definitely was it. >> on the ground, captain dewitt says he confirms he has enough fuel to make it not only to his destination but also to an alternate airport in case of a diversion. standard for all commercial flights. he goes through his equipment checklist and discovers the cockpit's p.a. system isn't working. but that's not required. at 11:14 a.m., the flight is cleared for takeoff. the dc-9 is designed for short, frequent flights. at nearly 1,700 miles, the route from new york to st. martin will stretch this aircraft to its limit. as the flight heads south, the weather begins to deteriorate. captain dewitt is told visibility at the saint martin airport is below the minimum
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standard required for landing. he elects to divert to nearby san juan, puerto rico. but 13 minutes later san juan air traffic control center tells him st. martin tower wants to talk to him. >> i picked up and i tried to get hold of san martin. i got hold of san martin tower and all they did was start giving me fairly good weather, 1,500, et cetera. which was well above the minimums i needed. i did question them, where did the report come from that you were below minimums? i elected then to refile for san martin, my original destination, which i did. >> but as these dramatic animations illustrate, contrary to the information captain dewitt says he was given, weather is terrible. he attempts to land the plane anyway, burning massive quantities of fuel in the process. >> visibility was poor. it was raining. and because of those conditions he had to stay in closer to the airport, to the runway, than he would normally like to have done. so first attempt was unsuccessful. >> so i lined it up with the
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runway, and i took my second circle around. >> now, on the second attempt, the winds were starting to shift, and he was unable to line it up for a landing. so he decided to go around again. on the third attempt, the same conditions existed. however, by now the winds had shifted 180 degrees. now he had a tailwind. because he had a tailwind, he was too high on the approach. >> so at that point i told my crew, tell the tower i'm going to my alternate. >> calculations showed that they would make it just barely. they were legal by their calculations. but there wasn't much extra. in hindsight it's easy to say, well, they should have stopped in bermuda or they should have stopped on the way down in san juan. the moment that they missed the runway it went from fuel critical to a full fuel emergency. >> when we come back, out of
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fuel, out of time, and in the water. >> i was definitely under water. and the aircraft was rolling to the left. why do so many businesses rely on the us postal service? because when they ship with us, their business becomes our business. that's why we make more e-commerce deliveries to homes than anyone else in the country. here, there, everywhere. united states postal service priority: you
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may 2nd, 1970. bad weather, low visibility, and lack of fuel. captain balsey dewitt has no choice but to ditch his plane in the caribbean sea. no footage exists of this incident. but our dramatic animation shows what the plane might have looked like as it slammed into those turbulent waters. here's how the pilot describes what it felt like to be in the cockpit at that life and death moment. >> my first contact with the water was quite smooth. and it wasn't too long after that that the rest of the airplane was starting to make contact with the water, starting to get heavy drag. extreme amount of vibration in the cockpit. the instrument panel was vibrating so that i couldn't even read it. >> but how did this flight end up in such a dire situation? after failing to land at st.
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martin's juliana airport in bad weather, captain dewitt decides to divert. first to the nearby island of st. thomas. then to st. croix when he finds out it's even closer. but as the plane is climbing away from the airport in a torrential downpour, there's a problem. >> my navigator said to me, balsey, my god, look at the fuel gauges. >> because of the wind, the turbulence and the conditions, the airplane was rocking back and forth as it was climbing. the fuel totalizer was spinning. >> i told him not to worry about it because i considered it was probably -- you know, being low on fuel to begin with, the turbulence and sloshing up and down in the tanks might cause this. >> but at 6,500 feet warning lights indicating low fuel pressure illuminate and captain dewitt knows just how grave this situation has become. >> he talks to the controller, how far are we from st. thomas? i've got five minutes of fuel,
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i'm not going to make st. thomas. >> i briefed the crew that we would keep going to st. croix but we were going to set up for a possible ditching. it's dark. it's overcast. it's raining. and the sea is very angry. the amount of whitecaps. the swells were quite enormous. and i had heavy winds. >> all of captain dewitt's years of experience are about to come into play. as he descends, he eyeballs the 10 to 15-foot waves and chooses one, knowing full well he has to land on top of it rather than into it or the plane could break into pieces. time of impact, 3:49 p.m. unlike us airws flight 1549, which skimmed across the top of the hudson river, this plane bobs in and out of the waves. incredibly, captain dewitt says the plane continues to function while in the water. >> the aircraft was rolling to
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the left and was at already a high degree bank, probably around 30 to 35 degrees. all i did was start flying it like i would in the air, and it rolled out, level. and the minute it rolled out level i sort of popped to the surface just like a cork. >> not all have survived the impact. but those who do escape into shark-infested waters. it's an hour and a half before rescue helicopters begin arriving on the scene. because the plane's p.a. system was not working, the pilot never had a chance to verbally warn passengers to put on their seat belts or brace for impact. 40 of 63 survived. according to the ntsb, fewer lives would have been lost had passengers received adequate warning. of the 23 who don't make it, two are children. to this day it's difficult for the pilot to come to terms with the loss of life. >> well, the story itself, not
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very difficult, except if i let my mind wander to the people i lost, yeah. the two kids i lost back there. >> the final ntsb report on a.l.m. 980, issued nearly a year later, in march 1971, reveals a laundry list of all that went wrong that day. "the probable cause of this accident was fuel exhaustion, which resulted from continued unsuccessful attempts to land at saint martin until insufficient fuel remained to reach an alternate airport." other factors, reduced visibility, a condition not reported to the flight. >> i think the biggest thing was that they kept thinking that they would make it and they kept doing the planning and realizing increasingly that they weren't going to. the airplane, after its second approach into st. maarten, was fuel critical.
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and to allow a jet to get to be in that fuel critical a state is an error on the part of the crew. >> there's one thing in this accident that cannot be taken away from me and i will not let anybody take away from me. that's the responsibility. i take that. i wore the four stripes. i made all the decisions. somewhere along the line i should have been sharp enough to know regardless and to get myself into a situation like that. and to this day i still haven't found where i could have done anything better. >> captain dewitt was fired from his job six weeks after the ditching. he says no official reason was given. he never flew as a pilot again. coming up next -- terrorism in the skies and another dramatic ditching. this one actually caught on camera.
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hi, i'm richard lui. officials have confirmed that a ninth person has died from injuries sustained after a charter bus crash on a south texas highway near the mexico border. 43 others were injured. a suspicious package was found inside manchester's trafford stadium. the object liked like an incredibly lifelike device, but was not viable. when a commercial jet has to make an emergency landing, the hope is to find a nearby runway. but that's not always possible. sometimes in a dire situation ditching a plane in a body of water is the only choice.
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we've been reporting nail-biting stories of planes that had to do just that. amazingly, what's often described as a terrifying life-or-death experience for passengers doesn't even seem to faze the men in the cockpit. >> there was no fear factor. i had no problems with the crew. everybody was with me. >> we had things to do. and i think that makes a big difference. i've always felt that certainly the flight attendants and passengers in back would have had a lot more fear than us because they had nothing to do. >> water ditchings are rare, but there have been several more than just flight 1549 and a.l.m. 980. january 2002, a boeing 737 operated by garuda indonesia airways flies into severe thunderstorms, and both engines flame out. after three unsuccessful attempts to restart them, the
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pilot ditches in the shallow section of an indonesian river. 59 on board survive. one flight attendant drowns. august 2005, an atr 72 turboprop fitted with the wrong fuel gauge runs out of fuel and ditches in the mediterranean sea off the coast of sicily. 16 of 39 on board are killed. seven airline employees including mechanics, executives, the pilot and co-pilot receive prison sentences of up to ten years. more than half a century ago there was another ditching. and, amazingly, the entire incident is caught on camera. the old coast guard film is startling. but it doesn't tell the whole story. this graphic animation shows what it might have looked like if you'd been in the middle of
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the pacific ocean on october 16th, 1956, watching pan am flight 943 go down in open water. the images are eerily similar to the so-called miracle on the hudson, us airways flight 1549. but there are also some major differences. >> it's open ocean. so it's going to be significantly more difficult than, say, a river just because of the swells and so forth. but the difference is they had had hours to plan this. the hudson river crew only had a couple of minutes. >> pan am flight 943 leaves honolulu, hawaii, with 31 people on board and 44 crates of canaries in the cargo hold. known as the sovereign of the skies, the boeing 377 stratocruiser, a long-range
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post-war airliner, is bound for san francisco. this is footage of that actual flight filmed by the coast guard. joanne marzioli is on board. >> it was a month before my 3rd birthday. i was with my mother. we were returning to the bay area from the philippines. and my mother was very anxious to get back to california to see my father. >> but the reunion would be dramatically delayed. several hours into the flight, nowhere near land, the plane is climbing to 21,000 feet when one of its four engines begins to overspeed. its normal hum now becoming a deafening scream. it's the middle of the night, and pitch black over the pacific. >> they had a problem with the propeller. and they created so much drag that they were doing okay with it for a while and then they ended up having another engine
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problem but the second engine couldn't sustain the high power. it would be an unbelievable set of circumstances. >> two engines that should be moving the plane forward are now holding it back. it's like driving a car with the emergency brake on. the plane won't make it to san francisco or back to hawaii. the pilot, captain richard ogg, quickly determines he has no choice but to ditch in the pacific. >> my mother mentioned that she didn't hear any yelling or screaming. she did hear a lot of praying in different languages. the mood was very, very serious. >> the pilot radios a nearby coast guard cutter for assistance. and a plan is formed. the stratocruiser will circle above the ship for the rest of the night, lightening its fuel load and waiting for daybreak. >> you want to be as light as you can because with less weight you can go slower. fly more slowly. so the impact with the water is going to be lessened.
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but also you want to do it with daylight because it improves your depth perception. you're going to be able to put the airplane into the water with a better judgment of exactly how high above the water you are. and that's going to increase the likelihood of having survivors. >> despite a well thought out plan, it is an incredibly dangerous situation. and just like the pilots in our other stories, captain ogg is remarkably calm, even managing to provide some comic relief, suggesting passengers light their cigarettes and relax. >> i mean, here he is, he's in a situation where he's going to have to ditch the plane, and yet he's able to joke like that. he seems to me to be very calm and have his sensibilities about him, which if you have to have a pilot who's going to ditch a plane you'd want a pilot who has his senses about him. >> the plane remains aloft for nearly five hours, operating on two of its four engines. by morning, conditions are more conducive to ditching. the water is calm. it's a warm 74 degrees. a coast guard camera records the scene from below as flight attendants prepare the
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passengers above, telling them to remove their shoes, tighten their seat belts, put out their cigarettes, and put on their life vests. the pilot has the crew move all passengers to seats in the front of the cabin. >> he was probably worried that the tail would break off. and if that was the case, then he wanted to make sure we were all safe in the front of the plane. >> there's a ten-minute warning. a one-minute warning. and then three simple words from the pilot. "this is it." the plane splashes down at a speed of 103 miles per hour. the impact is brutal. the plane whips around, its tail snapping off, just as the captain had predicted. but neither the film nor the graphic animation can fully express what the people who were on that plane experienced at that moment.
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>> when it hit the water, it jarred me apart from my mother, and i slid from under her legs and just slid under the chair. so that was very scary for my mother. i think that was the one time where she did let out a sound, where she did probably scream, "where's my child?" >> the coast guard crew is convinced no one could have survived this. but then, movement. within seconds, the front doors are thrown open and life rafts thrown out. in the midst of chaos, joann is handed off to a coast guardsman and then reunited with her mother. another moment caught on camera. >> when i saw myself being lifted up out of the life raft by one of the coast guards, i could picture them just smiling and just being really loving. and then seeing myself on the video put my arm around one of the coast guards, when i saw my mother looking at me, and i
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reached out for her, to see my mother on the video and to see that stressed look, i've got to say that just really made me think about what happened and what she had to go through. >> captain ogg is the last person off the plane, which sinks 21 minutes after hitting the water. the only casualties, the 3,300 canaries in the cargo hold. miraculously, all 31 people on board survive. >> i feel like it's such a miracle. all of us that survived now have lives and were able to create lives. >> it's a rarity for commercial jets to end up in the water. when they do, passengers rely on a combination of luck, skill, and good judgment in the cockpit. >> experience is something you can never buy. and you don't need it often, but when you do there's no
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substitute for it. >> still to come, a ditching not caused by birds, weather, or mechanical failure. this is the work of terrorists, and the deadly ordeal is caught on camera. >> the reply from the pilot, "we don't have enough fuel." the response from the hijackers, "we don't care." (stranger) good mornin'! ♪ (store p.a.) attention shoppers, there's a lostouple in the men's department. (vo) there's a great big un-khaki world out there. explore it in a subaru crosstrek. ve. it's what makes a subaru, a subaru. and i'm still struggling with my diabetes. i do my best to manage. but it's hard to keep up with it.
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real is an animal rescue amazing is over twenty-seven thousand of them. there is only one place where real and amazing live. seaworld. real. amazing what you're looking at is the most dramatic, most violent ditching ever caught on camera. it's a boeing 767 slamming down in the indian ocean off the east coast of africa. unlike the other ditchings we've seen, this one was not caused by mechanical failure, not by weather, or even a bird strike. as perilous as those situations were, at least those pilots were able to do their jobs without having to wrestle terrorists in the cockpit.
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>> that captain was under a different kind of stress than we've seen in these others. >> absolutely. not only had the issues of having to put the airplane in the water, he had people on board that were trying to kill the airplane and everybody on board with it, including themselves. >> it's november 23rd, 1996. ethiopian airlines flight 961 from ethiopia's capital to nairobi, kenya, should be a routine two-hour flight. it turns out to be anything but. the pilot, captain leul abate, sat with documentary filmmaker salim amin, whose father mo was killed in the crash. in the cockpit of a boeing 767 simulator, captain abate relives the hellish flight. >> so they came into the cockpit. how many of them? >> there were three of them. they took the fire extinguisher and they started beating the co-pilot, "go out. go out."
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i said, "guys, hold on, what's going on?" "shut up, the flight is hijacked." >> claiming to have a bomb, the hijackers demand to be flown to australia. >> okay, guys, i told them, this flight is destined to nairobi. we don't carry enough fuel to australia. let's land in nairobi. we'll refuel. and then we can go to australia. otherwise, i told them, it's impossible. >> the hijackers refused to allow captain abate to refuel at cities along his route. they want him to fly out over the water toward australia. the pilot knows that's a losing proposition so he hugs the coast. >> then he said, why are you flying along the coast? australia is somewhere to this direction. i told him, okay. i turn the heading. now this message came, fuel, low fuel. >> almost out of fuel, the plane approaches islands off africa's east coast.
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as the plane descends, the hijackers fight the pilot for control of the plane. >> i said, "guys, this is finished now. we are all dead people now. let me do it my way." and decide -- i don't know how they did it. disengaged the autopilot. >> disengaged it? >> he did. >> from this -- >> from that control. >> right. >> and then, i disconnected the autopilot and then i had to start flying it myself. >> in the cabin, passengers start to panic. >> when the pilot first made the announcement that the plane was out of fuel in one engine and running out in the other, the plane just broke into pandemonium and then we heard passengers in the back who panicked and they all inflated their life jackets. they all put them on and inflated them. >> so you could hear this happen? >> you hear the bop, bop, bop, bop, bop. >> in the cockpit the captain tries as hard as he can to put the plane he nicknamed zulu down
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safely onto the water. >> okay. you have to hold it. hold it, hold it. okay, zulu. you are going to make it. you are going to make it. >> the 767 is traveling at about 200 miles an hour. far too fast to ditch safely. but there's an even more serious problem. as this incredible video shows, the wings are not level. a dangerous angle for ditching. watch as the left wing drags along the water with disastrous results. >> they catch the left wing first. you'll actually see it come off. he's fighting to control the airplane. the engine hits. it's shedding parts and then he finally -- it actually pretty well rolls over as it sheds both wings. if he'd been able to hit a little more wings level, the chances of survival would have gone up. the biggest problem with this ditching is the fact that they catch that left wing. >> one can only imagine the pandemonium inside the airplane. survivors report feeling a
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series of increasingly violent impacts. >> the plane first hit the water and it was quite gentle. then there was a hard bump. the third one was like 60-mile-an-hour, worst thing you've ever felt kind of thing. and then getting progressively worse. >> of 175 passengers and crew, 125 perish, including all three hijackers. some victims are standing at the time of impact and are violently thrown to their deaths. many die because they disregard safety instructions and inflate their life jackets while still inside the plane. as the cabin fills with water, they're pushed up against the ceiling and drown. as tragic an outcome as it is, it could have been even worse. >> the fact that some people survived, is it good heroic piloting or were there mistakes made? >> were there mistakes? you can monday morning quarterback this and say they could have done this and that better.
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but under the conditions they faced, i'd say this crew did pretty well. when we come back, how do young pilots prepare for young gut-check moments? i'm about to find out for myself. >> we're down. >> that's it, you're in the water. >> we're down, we're down, we're down. whoo, that will get your heart rate going. this is brad. his day of coaching begins with knee pain, when... hey brad, wanna trade the all day relief of two aleve for six tylenol? what's the catch? there's no catch. you want me to give up my two aleve for six tylenol? no. for my knee pain,
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commercial jets are not designed to land on the water. it's dangerous and potentially deadly. so why would a pilot take such a risk? as we've seen, sometimes they simply have little choice. in one case, a giant 767 is felled by terrorists, hijackers who don't care if they or anyone else on board lives or dies. the pilot does his best to put the plane down safely but the impact kills 125 people out of 175 on board.
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over the pacific ocean, another flight has a mechanical problem and ends up in a virtual no-man's land. too far to go back or forward. when the plane meets the water, there are violent consequences. the aircraft ends up in pieces. miraculously, everyone on board survives. over the caribbean sea, a dc-9 has had a staggering chain reaction of bad weather and bad luck, runs out of fuel. the violent impact kills 23 of 63 on board. and in the most famous case, a jet has the misfortune of running into a flock of canada geese. all on board survive. what's the takeaway? if your plane runs into a situation where it may have to ditch, you want the right person in the cockpit making sound decisions. >> i just know that it took every bit of my education, training and experience, along
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with that of my entire crew. i think we have nearly 140 years of experience at this airline the five of us, to be able to come up with a number that was 155 on january 15th. >> the flight 1549 incident and sully sullenberger got a lot of us thinking about experience. when we see very young people in the cockpit, what should we know about their training and their level of experience? >> i think the point is not how many hours someone has but what's happened during those hours? what kind of training has gone on? >> i visited the nation's oldest and largest aeronautical university. embree-riddle in daytona beach, florida. to see how tomorrow's pilots are being prepared for their own gut-check moments. students here are constantly drilled in just about every type of emergency that could but rarely does come up. >> so that when something does happen, it's sort of like muscle
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memory. they go back to a mental process they've already done before. if the engine does quit on a small airplane, they've already done it 15 times in the simulator and the airplane as well. >> coming up on 3,000. >> both the engines are wound back. >> i feel like we're losing thrust, we're losing thrust. >> although i'm not a licensed pilot, i've had plenty of flight instruction. i got the chance to land my own plane in the hudson river in one of the university's 36 flight simulators. i can tell you one thing, even in a training exercise, it's nerve-racking. >> okay. drop the nose? >> yep. drop the nose. you are going to head for about 230 knots. >> okay, i don't think we're going to make an airport. i see the hudson river off -- >> you're about 400 feet now. start leveling off. good. back pressure. good. >> we're down. >> that's it. you're in the water. >> we're down, we're down. okay. whoo, that will get your heart rate going.
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>> yeah. >> six weeks after the real hudson river ditching, the crew of u.s. airways flight 1549 testified before congress. if the takeaway is about having the right person in the cockpit making the right decisions, airline professionals like captain chesley sullenberger worry their industry is going in the wrong direction. >> if we do not sufficiently value the airline piloting profession and future pilots are less experienced and less skilled, it logically follows that we will see negative consequences to the flying public and to our country. >> with all respect to the captain, i'm kind of surrounded by a lot of young people and they're 18 to 22 who all aspire to be in captain sullenberger's seat one day. i look at them at age 22. they're further along than i was and i was a military aviator. when they get to be at our age, they're going to be as good as we and are probably a little bit better. >> still, us airways first officer jeffrey skiles who sits in what he refers to as the right seat as a copilot is
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troubled by the trend he says he sees, of less-experienced pilots being rushed into the cockpit before they may be ready. >> when we were brought up in the industry, you started out learning how to fly smaller airplanes, you worked your way up to bigger ones. but the smaller commuter jets have the exact same complexity and speeds that we fly at. but people are essentially learning how to fly in six months. and all of a sudden, they're in the right seat of one of those airplanes. >> the standards that the pilots meet and the training is still set by the faa and it -- everybody, of course, has to meet that. but is there a lessening of experience across the industry? yeah, there is. and you don't find as many sullenbergers today as you did ten years ago.
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a 747 is flying over the pacific when suddenly a cargo door explodes open, sucking nine passengers out of the plane. >> it went from a perfectly normal, calm, serene situation to absolute pandemonium. >> another 747, another terrifying incident. the pilot struggled to control the plane for 32 minutes, but it's hopeless. >> they faced a condition that no pilot could possibly imagine, which is the airplane is no longer controllable. >> a 737 loses a giant chunk of fuselage midflight, causing a decompression so powerful, it kills a flight attendant. >> i saw what i think was the

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